Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Fringe Festival 2016: "Ball: A Musical Tribute To My Lost Testicle"

Day: 5

Show: 22

Category: Musical

By: The Catalysts

Created by: Max Wojtanowicz

Location: Southern Theater

Summary: A solo musical show about one person's cancer experience that is as funny and musically delightful as it is heartfelt and moving.

Highlights: Friends, even though I'm only halfway through the 50+ shows I plan to see, out of the 168 shows in the Minnesota Fringe this year, I'm calling it: Ball: A Musical Tribute To My Lost Testicle is the best show of the fringe, and Max Wojtanowicz gives the best performance of the fringe. Even though it may not technically be acting since he's essentially playing himself and telling his own story, it's one hell of a performance. Firstly, he's as funny and charming and beautiful of voice as always. But even more than that, he shares his heart and soul with the audience in a beautifully and painfully real way, entertaining and connecting at the same time, which is the essence of art. The show is funny, clever, and well-structured as Max walks us through his initial diagnosis in January of this year, his surgery, and the physical and emotional effects of chemotherapy. Director Nikki Swoboda ensures that there's not a slow moment in the show, and it nicely builds from light-hearted to sobering to hopeful. The songs are fantastic and still stuck in my head (which is to be expected when you work with composers Jason Hansen, Michael Gruber, and Andrew Cooke, who also music directs), ranging from hilarious (a medley of songs with the word "one" in the lyrics) to moving ("be brave") to inspiring ("I'm gonna live anyhow, until I die"). Max had tears streaming down his face by the end of the show, as did, I'm guessing, everyone in the packed house. When you can take a painful and difficult experience and turn it into something that's entertaining, engaging, and moving, that's a true gift.

Warning: the performance I attended sold out, so you might want to make advance reservations or show up at the theater early to ensure a spot.